Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The three members of Soulcrate Music hail from one of the mainstays on the Midwestern hip-hop circuit - Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It seems like an improbable claim, but take a look at any tour itinerary of a Rhymesayers, Doomtree or Def Jux artist and you're more than likely to find the city of nearly 160,000 and home of the Northern League's Canaries/Fighting Pheasants makes the list. It's typically included in the routing between Minneapolis and Iowa City and for whatever reason, it remains a place to play because the kids come out. It could be because they are desperate for it, for anything, being in one of the least-visited states in country, in terms of touring musicians. Whatever it is, one could make assumptions that living where they live - between a rock, a hard place and two other plains states that get largely passed over - young people could take on a pessimistic view of their location. They exist, literally, and are trapped, figuratively, hundreds and hundreds of miles from where they'd most likely rather be at any given time and it must be hard to stomach. Or wait, are they? It's a sentiment that would be taken as a certainty by anyone living on the coasts, but Attn. Def, Dirt Dee and DJ Absolute are proud as Midwesterners and they choose not to see where they were born and forced to call home an unenviable position. On "Rap Music From The Middle Of Nowhere," they offer, "I never bitch or complain/Or refrain from my terrain/I love the cornfields, great plains, blizzards and rain/This is my hometown/This is where I dated my first miss/Where I sat in awkward silence as I planted my first kiss," and you can almost feel them beaming with pride, the words rolling out of their mouths like those honeyed lines you'd feed a girl you wanted to get with. They brag about the cheap cost of shots and cold beer, letting it be known that they "got drunk all week on fifty bucks." There's something to be said for an ability to do just that and Sioux Falls, S.D., allows you and anyone else you know that privilege.
In some Soulcrate Music songs, the frustration springs a leak and it gets all over the place, turning even the promise of inexpensive liquor into something that can be cursed or kicked. There's boredom to be worked with and overcome. There are ignorant people and there's shitty luck - and as that luck would have it - some of it has no greater culprit than the place they're living. It's hard to get around it, but Soulcrate Music tends to only skirt their tempers, choosing their tantrums wisely, focusing instead on meaningful quibbles, not those that would ever come from a foolhardy need to be in a big city where everything's fucking happening. In those big cities, it's just all the same bullshit and the people matter less. When it comes to being mad at the world, they stop themselves and consider it, answering themselves with a determination that it's "not so bad, is it?" Things can be a bit dysfunctional and dull around these parts at times, but they don't let it get to them, as they tell us on "Think About Me," "It's dark and gray/My heavy eyes are red/But I see true blue skies ahead."